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Lacewell 1

Alexis M. Lacewell
Dr. Bret Zawilski
RC 2001-410
9 November 2015
Essay 1.2
Pregnancy is a vital time of growth, development, and change for both mothers and their
unborn children. Mothers are particularly subject to experience significant changes in their
anatomy and physiology that stem from accommodating the needs of their growing fetuses.
Despite the accommodations the body makes during pregnancy, there are still a variety of health
complications that may arise and pose a risk for both mother and fetus. Pregnant women may
become susceptible to cardiovascular disease and/or its associated risks, gestational diabetes,
preeclampsia, depression, specifically post-partum, and more. Exercise is a critical behavior that
can be modified to accompany pregnant women to sustaining the increased demand on their
bodies, maximize potential health benefits, and minimize potential health complications.
Unlike earlier perceptions, exercise during pregnancy has been deemed safe and
beneficial for both mothers and fetuses. Exercise is specifically tailored to the individual needs
of women, especially those who are pregnant, and should be discussed with a physician. Aerobic
exercises are typically prescribed for women during pregnancy, but, recently, resistance exercise
benefits have been researched and it is starting to be recommended as well. Combined, aerobic
exercises and resistance training can maximize the health benefits related to exercise during
pregnancy.

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The American College of Sports Medicine refers to aerobic exercise as an activity that
uses the large muscles of the body in a continuous, rhythmical fashion, and that is relatively easy
to maintain at a consistent intensity (ACSM Current Comment CITATION). Aerobic exercises
include, but are not limited to, walking, biking, swimming and dancing. In general, aerobic
exercises can reduce cardiovascular stress caused by pregnancy (Aerobics and Pregnancy
CITATION). Cardiovascular health is a significant component of physiological well-being, yet
cardiovascular disease is the most frequent cause of death during pregnancy in the
industrialized world (Exercise and Womens Health CITATION). Todays technology has
allowed many women to conceive later in life when their cardiovascular risk factors could
potentially be increasing. Aside from conception age, when women become pregnant, the
demands on their heart increase to accommodate the needs of the growing fetuses. It is important
for women to be able to sustain the increased demand on their heart from pregnancy, and aerobic
exercise is a critical behavior that can be modified to accompany women to sustaining the
increased demand on their heart. These exercises decrease resting heart rate and blood pressure,
which allow the heart to function at without overworking itself. Resting heart rate and blood
pressure indicate the hearts workload while inactive. Having a low resting heart rate and blood
pressure implies that your heart is functioning normally based off of the pressure in the walls of
your veins and arteries without overcompensating. On the other hand, a high resting heart rate
and blood pressure implies that your heart is functioning normally, but may be working too hard
at rest. This extra work could potentially be indicative of pre-hypertension or hypertension,
which are risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Pregnant women have to accommodate their
heart rate and blood pressure to that of their fetus, so their resting heart rates and blood pressures
may become higher. The increase in heart rate and blood pressure are normal as long as they do

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not exceed a certain threshold. Aerobic exercise during pregnancy allows women to maintain a
relatively safe, stable resting heart rate and blood pressure, which decreases the risk for
hypertension and related cardiovascular risks and diseases.
Aerobic exercise also improves the transportation and delivery of oxygen (CITATION).
This is often referred to as the maximum amount of oxygen that can be taken in by the body and
then taken to muscles and bones for work. Pregnant women tend to experience fatigue because a
greater portion of their oxygen for working muscles, such as the heart, and bones is being
utilized to accommodate their fetuses. Participating in aerobic exercise can increase their
maximum oxygen capacity, so that they are taking in more oxygen and they will perform tasks
at a lower percentage of their maximum with less fatigue or symptoms (CITATION). Improving
the transportation and delivery of oxygen by using a lower percentage of the maximum allows
the cardiovascular system to function more efficiently, therefore decreasing the amount of stress
that can be caused by pregnancy.